Mulling on Mullen

I’m about to write what many in Mountaineer country will consider blasphemy, but…I’m not sold on Jeff Mullen, and am fearful of an offensive collapse.

And it’s not like my normal fear of the unknown, like kissing a girl. It’s more like, Dave Wannstedt giving me mustachio grooming advise, or Marcus Vick babysitting my teenage sister, or Dan Dakich coaching my basketball team. (I genuinely felt sorry for Indiana.)

I’m scared to death. Extreme paranoia.

Things that keep me awake at night:

  1. The fear of Carnies.
  2. The fear of seeing Kirsten Dunst.
  3. The fear of the Stiles cornering me to talk about the NBA.
  4. The fear of Jeff Mullen ruining the best sustained offensive success in WVU history.

Now, I know the rhetoric. Mullen is adding a new element to the offense. No more bubble screens. Rodriguez only called three plays.

Believe me, I hate Rodriguez more than anyone. I’m still plotting his demise. (I don’t want to give anything away to potential investigators, but it may involve bubbles and a screen). But, he had a nice thing going at WVU.

Sure, we lost to Pitt due to no adjustments and bad play calling, but almost every team loaded the box against us to no avail.

(The USF loss was due to turnovers – 6 TO’s, 400 yds of offense. The losses in 2006 were mostly due to turnovers. And I disagree with the Pat White was injured argument- keeping in mind my man crush on him – we were playing just as poorly with him in both those games as without him. Jarrett Brown was responsible for both TD’s.)

From 2005-2007, the offense was as good as anyone could have possibly hoped for. There were a few games it underachieved, as I expect a TD every possession, but every team has off games. If you want to make the argument the offense needed some serious adjustments from 2001-2004 I’ll agree 100%.

The whole 2001 season, losses to Maryland, Cincinnati, and especially Virginia Tech and Pitt in 2004 were all cause by the inability of Rodriguez to adjust, first from passing non-stop, then to running non-stop. I noticed the first year he had almost no diverse or deep route packages, and I still have nightmares of Rasheed Marshall on a 3rd and 8 QB draw.

But I digress. Everyone would probably agree that the Fiesta Bowl should be a template of how the offense should be run. But now it’s being changed. Involving the tight end, more motion, bigger offensive linemen, spreding the ball, new terminology is all code for, Jeff Mullen could be turning the WVU offense into a lower scoring unit molded after Wake Forest.

First lets look at the passing game. Yes, deep routes will open up the run game, but it is also a greater risk and will lead to more interceptions. Pat White is the best running QB I’ve ever seen, but he is not a phenomonal passer. To date, almost all his passes have been low risk throws. Throwing over the middle will lead to more picks, like it has already in the team scrimmages.

Also, everyone is cheering the absence of bubble screens. I think people might find themselves surprised once the season starts. Mullen has talked at length about the new screen game he has installed, and the numbers from scrimmages back that up. White and Brown normally have attempted around 15 passes for 70 yards, and even when those numbers are higher, the yardage never never reaches the ideal mark of 10 yards per completion.

You might say, yeah, but now we’re going to involve the tight end. Not impressed. Getting the ball to the tight end means throwing the ball over the middle (more dangerous) and to a player with lesser skill (big, slow guys). With Will Johnson, I’m excited about the mismatch it can create, but also worried about his blocking abilities on a rush linebacker.

I like the idea of having another weapon, but the offense was just fine without it. And instead of “spreading the ball around now”, I would rather have the ball in White and Devine’s hands as many plays as humanly possible. No offense to Tito Gonzalez, Jalloh, Lyons, and the rest, they are not White and Devine.

The last thing that scares me is the talk about Pat White and Jarrett Brown playing at the same time.

Pat White is the one of the best QB’s in the country and a Heisman candidate. Brown is a solid backup, but has ONE career start and a couple handful of fourth quarters. Why would you not want White touching the ball every snap.

There is no way he is as good a reciever as QB, and there’s no way Brown is as good a QB as White. So by putting White at WR (a position he’s never played), you make the QB position weaker, and probably make the recieving corp a little better. But not enough to overcome the diminshed QB spot, so at best you break even.

It also leads to the potential of both your QB’s getting injure. Bill Stewart can talk all he wants about not being scared of players getting injured, but until he takes Pat White’s non-contact jersey off during practice, or tells me he wouldn’t sell his soul to keep White healthy all year, I don’t buy it.

I know this post is being brought to you by Debbie Downer, but let’s look a the facts. Jeff Mullen has never been an offensive coordinator, and comes from a team with a much worse offense. Bill Stewart has only been a head coach once and with limited to no success. Pat White is the best runner in Mountaineer history, but is not a throwing QB.

So just because we hate how our former coach left, doesn’t mean his offense needs a major overhaul. His offense didn’t need to be changed at all. Maybe tweaks here and there, but 40 points, 300 yards rushing, 0 turnovers is a pretty good recipe for success.

I hope I am proven completely wrong, but blind optimism isn’t in my repetoire when a first time offensive coordinator is changing the best offense in Mountaineer history.

I refuse to use revisionist history are act like just because Rich Rodriguez is a scumbag and blew the biggest game in his career, that his offense was too predictable. It was predictable all the way to 3 straight 11 win seasons and 40 points per game.


41 Responses

  1. Look on the bright side. You can always hope that Mullen will end up playing Calvin to Stew’s RR, and get all his play calls vetoed.

  2. I think the article i read said that they were going to change to a 60-40 run pass o-fence. What were we last year 80-20? 70-30? Either way, as long as we run 60 percent, the players you described as needing the ball the most will be getting it.

  3. I agree with The 25314, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  4. I totally agree with you, and I applaud you for saying what 1/2 of us were thinking but did not have the nads to come out and say it.

    People don’t realize how many points a key interception can swing a game. It turns a 42-24 blowout under RR into a 35-32 nail biter. Close games? an interception can make a huge difference.

    This is one of the best posts ever on this blog… I hope it generates some good discussion.

  5. I’m not entirely sold on Mullen either, but I think there are reasons not to panic:

    1) This is going to be a different brand of football under HCBS. WVU is going to win with stingy D and an efficient offense that doesn’t turn the ball over.

    2) Wake Forest doesn’t have nearly the playmakers that WVU has. And even RichRod’s offense wasn’t that special until Pat White got here either.

    3) The coaches have stated that the running game is not going to change. That’s been our bread and butter, and we’re going to stick with what works. It’s not like the passing game was lighting people up anyway.

    4) Finally, the offense was good, but it didn’t do what was required to win a national title. Sure, we turned the ball over in those games but when we needed to hit a pass to loosen the defense up, we couldn’t do it. There needs to be some kind of balance if you’re going to beat the best. We had that in the Fiesta and Sugar. Not against Pitt and USF. It needs to be there consistently.

  6. Agreed! I’ve said it on my blog earlier this year. My thoughts are run the offense like it has been for the last 3 years. Make adjustments in the second half (unlike Richrod) and than we roll to another Big East crown.

    My biggest concerns:

    1.Adding a cadence and motion to this team will result in false starts and missed-assignments. Not enough time to introduce this to team that has never done it on this level.
    2.The greatest point is that only three things happen on a pass plays (reception, interception, incomplete pass). So that gives you a 33% chance of a positive play. I think Charley West wrote this earlier.
    3.If we go to a huddle than we will allow defensive subs and coaching adjustments. This will also be a waste of our great conditioning program.

    Next Pat is a master at reading the defensive alignment. His experience in reading the secondary is yet to be seen. I know he has the arm to make plays downfield but his best passes are usually designed bootlegs to bring the d-backs up to the line. Now your asking him to make 3 step drops and fire to unexperienced recievers over the middle.

    Will Johnson is a stud. Make no mistake that this guy is an athlete who can blow buy LB’s and roll over DB’s. He has Kellen Winslow potential (I can believe I said that, cause I really hate that bastard). Pass blocking is not my concern for him. Run blocking against d-end might not be to pretty for him. Look for Johnson to take the motion plays out to the slot, instead of inside.


    I don’t see HCBS calling to many plays. He is a motivator and a leader, not a offensive guru. Let’s give Jeff Mullen a chance to prove us wrong, and then If he blows it. Than we all can crucify him!!! Theres nothing else we can do!

  7. I feel the same way about Mullen. Originally it was “a few wrinkles to make the defenses honest” and now it seems we hear about 2-3 interceptions after every practice and we are working on a lot of passing when we have the best RB in the nation, the best running QB, and a great returning O-line!

  8. That was a whole crap load of writing. I can’t read that much in one sitting so I will finish reading and comment tomorrow after taking some time.

  9. Mullen … you are officially on Notice.

  10. Nati, I was just being, um, glib. Mullen does scare me a little. As does all change. And carnies.

  11. Aren’t we being a little impatient? Calvin left, we had to hire someone else. Mullen hasn’t even been here six months…

    We don’t need to keep working on the running game 80% of our practice time, we have that down already. We need to spend 80% of practice working on the passing game until we get it up to par. Then start working more on the running game again.

    Now is when we need to be working on the passing game, not in mid October in the heat of a battle when our running game is shut down.

  12. I’m shocked that, after 3 years of Pat White, you all only think that a reception is the only positive that comes from a pass play. I would say with Pat White when you drop back to pass you have a 65% of positive yards. I’m sure HCBS and the rest of them know that with the weapons we have on offense, we’ll only have to pass just enough to keep the defense honest.

    With that said, I have complete faith in HCBS but Mullen will have to earn my faith.

  13. I agree with a lot of what you say. But keep in mind that this offense is NOT completely the same. We did loose Owen, Steve and Reynaud. Those players being gone does place a slight change on the overall view of the 08′ offense. I think Mullens will take what we have and just update DickRod’s version. The 08′ Mountaineers will be just as productive and put up just as many points.

  14. I hear all-y’all…I like we’re adding more attention to the passing game. Heck, we could run exactly the same plays as last year right now and all this talk of passing will require defenses to hone in on that more. Pat White doesn’t make a lot of mistakes…if the pass isn’t open he’ll take it upfield himself. I have no doubt about that…and I’m sure his coaches let him know that.

    We’ll definitely be missing Owen, Steve and Darius…but Mullen has a lot of weapons and adding more motion will take some hard work at practice to get used to, but it will take much more time for defenses to adjust to. Any little opening is 6 for us…I like those odds. We had to adjust or the rest would catch up…and I like what I’ve read about these changes.

  15. I understand the post, but I completely agree w/ Country Roads. RR’s offense is good, no doubt. BUT… You still need great players to execute the plays. (Just watch Michigan next year and see how GREAT RR’s offense is). I would give most of the credit to WVU’s success the last 3 years to the players. And I’m excited about who we have coming back.

  16. I agree with Gordo here – I think the run game was only successful because Adam Bednarik happened to get hurt in the Louisville game and Pat White and Steve Slaton happened to find their way onto the field. And, though it terrifies me just to think about it, Pat White is graduating soon – Jarrett Brown just doesn’t seem to have the speed that he needs. The passing game would have to open up anyway within the next year to two.
    All that being said, Pat White is a brilliant player. I highly doubt that he is just going to lob the ball downfield if there is no one there to catch it.

  17. Michigan fan here. I totally hear you on the USF loss last year that it was due to turnovers. So Sporting News reported that Jim Tressel and his coaches talked to USF DC Burnham to talk about stopping the spread option. SN made it sound like it was really easy: no problem, you just force them to run up the middle. Now I watched that game and recently looked up the stats of that game so that I can convince myself that RR isn’t stopped cold by some magical defense.

    It wasn’t that easy for USF. Yes, WVU rushed for fewer yards against USF, but the competition that it had faced before was not as tough. Fine, but the score was also pretty close, albeit with a late score by the Mountaineers. Even I remember that the turnovers came at pivotal times, and IIRC one was returned for a TD. That WVU defense was really underrated last year, but I am kind of happy that we’re not running the 3-3 stack. Good luck next year.

  18. “2.The greatest point is that only three things happen on a pass plays (reception, interception, incomplete pass). So that gives you a 33% chance of a positive play. I think Charley West wrote this earlier.”

    I’m sorry, but that is stupid. When you drop back to pass, you have three outcomes, but they all don’t have a 33.3% chance of happening. When you throw a baseball up in the air and try to catch it, you can either catch it or drop it. Does that mean that 50% of the time you drop the baseball? No. It’s that kind of thinking that makes people say, “4th and 3? We average 6.2 ypr, we should rush the ball and we’d have an awesome chance of converting.” No, you don’t. Because Pitt has stacked the line on every goddamn play the entire goddamn game, you’d have a much better shot at converting with running that full-back flair, PW roll-out pass option to the left side of the field when you’re on the goddamn right hash-mark. That play worked in every “crunch” situation all season long. Are you a fucking idiot? Up the middle on a night when we can’t move their defensive line? Go fuck yourself and die in a fire Rod! Die In A Fire!

    Uhh… at any rate… according to PW’s stats last season, under Rod’s offense the “percentages” actually breakdown to approx.: Completion 65%, Incompletion 33%, Interception 1%. In reality though, you also have to include all of the rushes for gains on pass plays, all of the sacks and how wrong the stats can be (a 4 yard completion for a first down in the 4th quarter of a close game versus an interception to close the half thrown from our 45 yard-line into the endzone during a blowout).

    In regards to MulIen, I guess I feel like some of us are as deluded as some Michigan fans are right now. I’ve read UM folks predict 8 and 9 win seasons and I’ve seen WVU folks predict PW, Mullen and HCBS leading us to the BCS promised land. Unfortunately, I fear both schools are going to be mighty unhappy come December…

  19. It sounds to me like the blogger wants RR back. The talk about Jarret and Pat on the field at the same time I think sounds great. This blogger seems to think that Jarret is a sub par QB. He may not be as gifted as Pat but I’ll bet you money he would be starting anywhere else. Plus he is a better passer than Pat. I don’t understand how having your 11 best players on the field at the same time should scare someone. I think that some are criticizing way to soon. I mean this is spring practice. The coaches already know we can run the ball so why would we spend the majority of our spring practices practicing running the ball. I think the coaches are just seeing what works and what doesn’t in order to prepare for practice in August. C’mon guys do you really think that a coaching staff with what like 100yrs combined experience in coaching fball is going to force passing the ball and not run? It is normal to be scared I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little. However, I also have faith in the coaching staff.

  20. Double U,

    “When you throw a baseball up in the air and try to catch it, you can either catch it or drop it. Does that mean that 50% of the time you drop the baseball? No. It’s that kind of thinking that makes people say, “4th and 3? We average 6.2 ypr, we should rush the ball and we’d have an awesome chance of converting.” No, you don’t.”

    Last time a checked you didn’t have 11 defenders trying to knock your ass out when you catch a baseball. Apples to oranges dude, and a nightmare of an analogy.

    I am not saying we shouldn’t pass a in 4th and 3 situations. But to say we should stop what we are doing and revert back to 7-8 win seasons is ludicrous.

    “In regards to MulIen, I guess I feel like some of us are as deluded as some Michigan fans are right now. I’ve read UM folks predict 8 and 9 win seasons and I’ve seen WVU folks predict PW, Mullen and HCBS leading us to the BCS promised land. Unfortunately, I fear both schools are going to be mighty unhappy come December…”

    Well, I don’t speak for anyone else. I’m not having any delusions about our 3 year, 11-win football program that returns 2 heisman candidates. Rod never would have been shit without the talent. Now HCBS knows he has the thoroughbreds to take us to the finish line. As for Michigan! I feel insulted to be compared to a team who has loss 4 players to transfers, didn’t get Pryor, and are considering starting a tailback as their 08 QB. Oh yeah, and they are coming off a season with a loss to Appy State.

    You great point is that Michigan fans may be delusional. Make no mistake that this I one Mounty that doesn’t share any delusions as long as PAT and DEVINE are in the backfield.

  21. Woosh.

  22. Double U – very good logic on the passing game….but more passes will eventually lead to more INT’s. Also, exactly right about the bootleg run/pass option on 4th and 3. I don’t know how we called anything else.

    Nasty – Rod was nothing before Pat White got here. But he recruited White as a QB, and developed the perfect offense with him. That said, it took him 5 years to get Pat White here, and the 2004 season was probably right next to 1998 as the worst coaching job/biggest waste of talent in WVU history.

  23. 25314,

    Agreed! However, Pat White has gone on record for saying that HCBS was the lead recruiter and played a important roll in his decision.

  24. By the way …

    It was one of those “old timers” (Vince Lombardi or George Halas) that said “Olny three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad.”

    Charley West is famour for saying “Puke and Rally.”

  25. I’ve always heard that spring practice is the time to experiment and fall practice is the time to execute. I think the coaching staff is just trying to see what the players could do in certain situations (ie pitt) if the run game isn’t clicking.

    I’d be very surprised if, come fall, we aren’t back to the 75/25 run pass ratio that we thrived in. Remember DickRod even turned pass happy the last few spring games and we know how much that carried over into the fall.

  26. Puke and Rally is more inspiring to me!!!!!!!!


  28. There always fear of the unknown. There will be some issues we will all gripe about this year because it didn’t used to happen with the old squad, I know that will be the case.

    We do have Noel Devine and Pat Whtie and those intangibles are enough to slaughter most teams regardless of coaching style.

    Great post! I’m going to stay positive!

  29. Did you take your meds today? Why so negative?

  30. Lets Just win games! Run then sneak in passes!

  31. I was pleased with the Mullen hire and I’m excited about the future. Jeff came with a very high recommendation from Coach Grobe. That means a lot to me. Jeff wasn’t the OC, but he did all the play calling for Wake. I have watched Wake quite a bit over the last few years. They have done more with less, than anyone else in Div 1A. Their offense (much like Rod’s, but more sophiscated) has given teams with superior talent fits. Clemson has tons of talent and Wake gives them fits. Jeff has said over and over, he isn’t making wholesale changes of the offense. They are just adding some new wrinkles. Give him an honest chance and enjoy the ride.

  32. Hey Dave its kind of hard to take your post seriously if u don’t know how to spell DEFENSE.

  33. When you run the ball 80% of the time you will eventually turn the ball over on fumbles (see the USF & Card games). Turnovers happen. At least with an interception (especially behind the defense) you’re less likely to give the opposition a chance to start at your own line of scrimmage. You all need to get a grip. All of these coaches have probably forgotten more about football than any of you will ever comprehend.
    I see a BCS Championship on the horizon.

  34. How soon we forget. Running the ball may only give you about a 25% chance for succes: Tackle for a loss, No gain … FUMBLE. There is no such thing as an infallible offense.

  35. If you fear seeing Carnies, how do you ever make it to Morgantown for a game? I assume you just listen to the radio broadcast, right?

  36. Lend me your EERS!

    Check out what the above guy (DEX – a Michigan man) writes on his site.

    “3. Prosperity

    In his previous residence, Comrade Rodriguez was held back by an aggressively ignorant populace, a corrupt administration, and lack of monetary funds.

    In his new residence, he will be met with aggressively wealthy fans, a less corrupt administration, and a surplus of budget. With the construction of the Grand Kremlin of Michigan Football complete and the money from the party elite rolling in, Michigan will be able to purchase only the best in goods for the republic and its leader.

    A happy, well fed, and sufficiently compensated Rodriguez will be a dangerous Rodriguez. No longer looking over his shoulder to ensure that no toothless GED program dropout is siphoning gas from his University car, Rodriguez will be able to devote all his energy to new and innovative ways to crush his foes under the boot heel of the Wolverines.”

    Two words: Appalachian State!!!!! Dex also failed to mention that he will be greated with 5 transferred players and a big Fuck you from Southern native Jim Tressel (Pryor).

    Now my fiance has three cousins that attend or have attended Michigan. I hate everyone of those arrogant fucks. I’ve known them way longer than Rod scandel and have always hated them all the same.

    Michigan is the only fan base that can top OSU in arrogant prick ratio. It’s not like these fuckers are ivy league.

    I will now take time to release my fury on his site. I hope you do the same!!!

  37. Thank you for your comments, but the proper spelling is “scandal”.

  38. Thank you for your comments, but the proper spelling is “scandal”.

  39. Michigan fan returns as the grammar police!

  40. Hey Dex,

    The proper spelling is …

    FUCK YOU!!!

  41. pat white will not make bad decisions in the passing game.if teams put 8 or 9 in the box somebody will be open.he won’t throw into triple coverage.oklahoma tried it and we hit tito over the mullen is the best thing that could have happened to us and pat white.if people see that he can pass the ball,we will be unstoppable.he may even get a shot at the nexl level under center.all i hear is pat can’t pass the ball.RR wasn’t calling pass plays.put 9 in the box and they better make the tackle or its 6.

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